With the continuing hot and dry conditions, coupled with ongoing hazardous air quality, we made the decision to stop work on the horse float restoration. Whilst disappointing, it was an easy decision to make. As I write, our nearest air quality station is reading 999 – its maximum reading, and we have just sweltered through another day of howling westerly winds and temperatures over 40 degrees.
We are extremely fortunate to have not yet been directly affected by the ongoing bushfire crisis that is the south east coast, other than the lingering smoke haze. That said, we have been on high alert.
Our local fire captain has a challenging role, juggling the requests to support strike teams in other areas, whilst maintaining the ability to respond to local incidents. I have been part of the team that is on standby for local incidents. Other than a few nervous moments caused by a dusty willy willy, we have been ok – for now.
That said, we have been using our time to check in on neighbours and prepare the house. The falcon has been positioned next to our hillbilly pool – giving around 15000 litres of firefighting water if the bladder doesn’t burst! The roof sprinklers have been tested and are working. Mum and the boys are the critical element in our fire plan, because it is highly likely that in the event of a fire, I will be fighting it elsewhere on a big red truck – or at work.
Our large dam is nearly empty with an average depth remaining of less than 30cm. Our pump inlet that supplies the water troughs is sucking little more than mud. All the other dams are dry. We have isolated all the water troughs and hopefully fixed any leaks to try to conserve every drop. There is always more that can be done – but for now we are in a relatively good place.
In the meantime, the cattle are hungry. We are feeding hay twice a week, and are supplementing their feed with willow branches. They have learnt to love the sound of the tractor starting up. Obviously Pavlov never fed cattle during a drought, or he may have made is conclusions regarding conditioning much earlier!
We have taken refuge in the house where we all, dog included, are going a little stir crazy. The boys have re-discovered their Lego, have devoured some books, done some music practice and we have enjoyed some board games. We have also purchased a couple more games for the Xbox, and have allowed a little more time each day on their devices.
When the air has been a little clearer, we have taken a turn at woodworking. The boys are making some pens and spinning tops. I was lucky we had a stash of P2 dust masks in the shed because every shop is sold out for miles around.
It has been an usual summer with many temperature records broken. I fear we are entering a new era, where extreme weather events become much more the norm. I have found this book fascinating, and confronting.
David Wallace Wells has collated all the science regarding climate change and tried to make sense of what it means for us. The difficulty is trying to understand what will happen because there are so many feedback loops. This piece is worthy of its own article, and when I get a chance, I will try to write a proper review.
For now, please stay safe and check in on your family, friends and neighbours. We have a couple of months before the fire season will even begin to abate. I have a feeling that there are still plenty more nervous days ahead of us.